Females' negative affective valence to math-related words

Lital Daches Cohen, Lilach Layzer Yavin, Orly Rubinsten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Emotional perceptions of math-related information can have profound effects on attitudes about math, which, in turn, may lead to decreased math achievements. A large body of research has documented that females have less positive attitudes and more negative affectivity to math than males. This study examined emotional valence ratings of math-related verbal stimuli among adults and performed a pioneering investigation of gender differences in emotional perceptions. A random sample of 290 adults completed a battery of online affect questionnaires designated to measure the relations of various math-related words to the field of mathematics (i.e., math loading) and compared the emotional valence of these words to words known to have negative and neutral valence. Results revealed that: (1) math-related words were rated as less threatening than words with negative valence, but more threatening than neutral words; (2) math loading ratings were the strongest and most significant predictor of the emotional valence ratings of math-related words; and (3) females rated math-related words and words with negative, but not neutral, valence as more threatening than males. The study concludes that negative affective valence is linked with math-related information, especially among females, and this finding has implications for researchers, parents, and educators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103313
Number of pages1
JournalActa Psychologica
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Emotional ratings
  • Gender differences
  • Mathematics
  • Negative valence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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